Monday, May 31, 2010

¡Arriba, abajo, al centro, pa' dentro!

Personally, I consider this piece of Spanish a "must know".  Maybe that's because I spend so much time in bars when I go to Mexico, but that's another story, albeit related.

It's pretty much a worldwide custom to make a toast while you have a few drinks friends or celebrate a special occasion.  In America, we say "cheers", as you well know.  But in Spanish, you say ¡salud!

But personally, I find that particular toast a bit plain, which brings us to the topic of today's post.

¡Arriba, abajo, al centro, pa' dentro!

While we can make a literal translation, there's no equivalent expression in English that I'm aware of. Memorize this and say it right before you slam down your favorite tequila, or whatever your drink of choice is.   OK, maybe you don't have to slam it down, but it might make the night more interesting.

Let's talk a little about the Spanish you see in this image.

You probably noticed the pa in steps 1, 2 and 4 on the image.  That's just a contraction for para.   The pa'l on step 3 is a contraction for para al.  And that's your Spanish lesson for today.

So here's how it works, so pay close attention (fijense bien) because the physical mechanics of this toast are crucial.  OK, maybe crucial is a bit much, but the motions come with the phrase.

You know what?  Forget the picture, here's a video of this toast being done in action.  If you can't see the video here's the direct link:

Now, oddly enough, that is the traditional toast and that's exactly how it's done.  Except I'm not accustomed to doing it that way.

I'll describe the way I've seen it done, and done it myself.  I picked this up in Northern Mexico, Tijuana to be exact.  I can't tell you how common it is outside of there.

Let's get to it.

At each step, be sure to "clink" or touch glasses. Or beer bottles, whatever it is your drinking from.  I'm typically drinking beer, so let's go with that.

Now in my version the movements aren't as exaggerated as they are in the picture and video above.  You just hold your beer bottle (or glass) at about shoulder height in front of you and it stays at that level.  After that, just go through the motions:

"Arriba" -  Literally translates to "up".  Touch the necks of your beer bottles

"Abajo" - 
Literally translates to "down". Touch the bottom of your beer bottles

"Al centro" - Literally translates to "center". Touch the center of your beer bottles.  You general rub them up and down just a tad too.

"Pa' dentro or Adentro" - Literally translates to "inside".  Drink immediately, bottoms up!

I know it's tough to envision, I'll work on getting some video next time I'm there.

And here's a variation of this wonderful toast.  The words have changed (just a little) but motions are the same.

Arriba, abajo, al centro, con un movimiento, el vaso a la boca y todo adentro

Simple, right?  Well, I say you head to the closest cantina (bar) and practice this until you get it right.

Also be sure to visit my sister blog and read my post 3 Ways to ask for happy hour specials in Spanish.

And lastly,  for 20+ more bar/drinking phrases and over 1600 useful Spanish phrases on your Android device, check out My Spanish Phrasebook.

¡Cuidense amigos!


  1. This is great....much practice may be needed to get both hands well coordinated! I'll practice with friends, first.

  2. Salute mi amigo!!!! Esta frase we mui importante aqui in Mexico. I hope that was sort of right! This is one of the first things I learned when I moved here!

  3. quite popular in Basque areas too, from my trip in June '10

  4. nice note! i enjoy this toast myself!

  5. I do this everytime me and my girls are in the mexican nite club

  6. The traslation is :
    and Inside
    And we use it, in every latin country not only mexico

  7. I spent two weeks in Costa Rica and we used this phrase all the time!

  8. Rod anfinson taught this to me a few years ago. Oh the memories we had were worth remembering. RIP. The beginning of every adventure, during the adventure, and at the end if we're still standing.
    Phx, AZ~San Diego, Calii~ Cabo, Mexico

  9. In custom it means "to my friends"... You are never above me, never below me, never away from me and always with me.

  10. Never above you never below you always side by side

  11. Salud is more than health. The entire toast is ¡Salud, pesetas, amor y tiempo para gozarlos! Health, money, love and time to enjoy them! Pesetas was the currency in Spain before the Euro

    1. I learned it "Salud, amor, pesetas, y tiempo para disfrutarlas." Is this equally correct or is the above preferred?

  12. Couple of days ago I saw the cop movie `End of watch` (2012) that has a nice example in it, which is what actually brought me here. I was interested in what seemed to be a traditional drinking phrase a Mexican familly did in the movie. Thanks and to good life!

  13. Rock Hudson and Susan Saint James used the phrase in several episodes of McMillan and Wife in the early Seventies.

  14. "Down the hatch!", old boy.

  15. They just used this toast at the end of NCIS LA. Now I am going to rewind and see if they touched glasses correctly.

  16. Thanks for this wonderful toast, which I just learned yesterday from a good friend at lunch. I would HATE for anyone to think I learned it from an NCIS show! Much appreciate the older TV references, not to mention my original source!

  17. NCIA LA brought me here! Muy Bien, gracias !

  18. this is a cool thing up and down in the middle hard

  19. Looking for a toast I saw at the Herradura Tequila ranch. ....el mano, ...el codo,
    ...el cull, ...X#$ everything. Missing the verb forms for raise, bend, squeeze and ??? Any help?


  21. In Ireland we do say, Hurry up and get it into the middle of you! We also love Spain, hasta luego mi amigos